Pre walk (10 – 11 October 2022)
It all began in summer 2019 when my neighbors and friends, Barbara and Steve Diamond, suggested that we walk from Ovieto to Rome. I added the leg from San Miniato near Firenze to Orvieto. We planned the trip for April 2020 but you know the story. After four postponements, here I am with Rich Gorton, another walking buddy, enjoying Firenze before heading to San Miniato tomorrow to check into our hotel before starting our VF walk on Thursday, the 13th. The 13th is also Sharon and my 38th anniversary. Thank you Sharon for supporting my walk. Rich will also celebrating the first anniversary of his hip replacement.
I was last in Firenze in 1980. Those few days are a distant memory although I still am in awe of viewing the real David and Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus. This time we passed up the Uffizi and the Accademia. We opted to freelance with no destinations in mind. Since we arrived within two minutes of one another at Hotel Kraft on the west side of centro (amazing because I left from Newark for Milan and Rich from Philadelphia for Rome), we needed a hearty lunch. We found La Piccola Corte about two blocks from our hotel. An excellent lunch — seafood risotto for Rich and a seafood pasta Sardinian style for me. We were launched and lunched.
We wandered through the city to Santa Croce, one of the main sites. Murals and artworks of the greats abound: Giotto, Donatello, Michelangelo, among others. We strolled back to our hotel along the Arno and stopped for gelato at B.Ice – superb and located in our neighborhood. We were jet lagged and called it a night with a beer on our hotel’s rooftop restaurant during sunset.
I chose to include a sunrise breakfast photo because the sun behind our hotel and the main sites at sundown. There’s the Duomo, and the tower of Palazzo Vecchio along with Rich at table side. We are living big. Yes, that’s Prosecco.
Onward we went throughout the morning and early afternoon in Oltrarno, the Santo Spirito quarter, on the southside of the Arno. Almost immediately, we encountered a small marketplace alongside the city walls. I took several images of the vegetables with my Fuji camera. Alas, they will not appear in this blog. But the vendor is included below.
We walked into a showroom of sculptures of various sizes. You can see Rich being dwarfed by some of them. We looked in the windows of all kinds of shops. We encountered a tank – like Smart car that had a distinctively macho feel. We spent almost an hour in Santo Spirito and admired Michelangelo’s crucifix. Our best experience was Legatoria di Libra San Agostino where we saw Missy from Chicago learning how to marble paper. After traversing the Ponte Vecchio, we lunched again at La Piccola Corte – Burrata with Parma ham and Trippa Florentina. Who had what? It is obvious that we liked La Piccola Corte. We voted with our feet or our stomachs. The bill including coperto, one bottle of water, and half carafe of red wine was 25.50 euros. We loved this place.
As the sun set, we crossed the Ponte Vespucci for Trattoria Pandemonio on Via del Leone, highly recommended. We were two of 10 diners at 7:45. By 9:00, it was packed. We tried the melanzane flan which we split, a white Pecorino wine from Marche (very dry like a French Muscadet sur Lie), shrimp creamed risotto, pasta bottarga (red mullet roe), and local cheesecake – creamy, denser than whipped cream but much lighter than NY cheesecake. We passed on the Steak Florentine which every table appeared to have ordered. The restaurant lived up to its reputation. Before retiring, I went to our hotel rooftop for a nighttime shot of Firenze centro.